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The Three-Pound Enigma: The Human Brain and the Quest to Unlock Its Mysteries

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  123 Ratings  ·  17 Reviews
The average human brain weighs three pounds—80 percent of which is water—and yet it's capable of outstripping the computational and storage capacities of the most complex computer. But how the mind works remains one of humankind's greatest mysteries.

With boundless curiosity and enthusiasm, Shannon Moffett, a Stanford medical student, takes us down the halls of neuroscienc
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published January 20th 2006 by Algonquin Books
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Feb 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: black
Subtitle: The Human Brain and the Quest to Unlock its Mysteries. Shannon Moffett is a med student, and she opens the book with a charming little scene of her and another student dissecting a cadaver. During the course of her studies, she heard from a number of different medical researchers who were looking into how the brain functions (or fails to, as the case may be). She decided that other people might be interested in hearing about it.

Which, as long as you have a brain yourself, is probably t
Jan 31, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: neuroscience
loved this book! absolutely fascinating - moffett dives into the cutting edge of what's happening in neuroscience, and meets with the people who are studying what happens when we think, see and feel. if you wonder what it is that makes us human - what makes the "mind" - read this book!
Feb 01, 2009 rated it really liked it
Although I have always been fascinated with the brain and the human mind, I haven't actually read any books about them until coming across Shannon Moffett's "The Three-Pound Enigma". Now having finished the book, I'm glad I started off with this one.

Moffett's book is a wonderful survey of some of the major questions and issues surrounding the brain, not only in how it works and produces that which we call consciousness, but also the moral and philosophical aspects that one inevitably runs into w
Mar 07, 2009 rated it really liked it
There are 2 reasons this great book didn't get 5 stars. One, the interludes were kind of pointless. Interesting, but kind of distracting between every chapter, and they didn't really have any bearing on the chapters before or after. The other thing is the last chapter, because I think Eastern mysticism is such a big steaming pile of bullshit I can barely get myself through a single sentence of it. The author doesn't seem to take it too seriously either, so it's a wonder she decided to fuck up th ...more
Mark Schomburg
Aug 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
Ms. Moffett makes neuroscience sexy in this survey. By meeting with and interviewing scientists across the field, and not just in the lab, she builds an energetic narrative of the field. We learn not only what they're up to, but also who has tattoos, who philosophizes in bars, what metal jewelry not to wear in the scanner, and so it's not your ordinary neurological review. It's fast paced and absorbing, with the bonus of some working web links to laboratory demonstrations. Perhaps by clipping th ...more
Swapnil N
Jun 08, 2012 rated it liked it

I liked the title and the subtitle " The three pound enigma: The human brain and the quest to unlock it's mysteries" quite befitting to the contents of the book. Whoever has chosen it, praises for that person for choosing at once a catchy title (from marketing point of view) and an apt title ( considering the contents of the book) serving both purposes without compromising on either.

The book is divided into different chapters and the beauty is that ( atleast for me) they can be read independen
Rick Edwards
Oct 13, 2010 rated it liked it
Moffett has produced an easy-reading overview of current research findings on the human brain and consciousness. Her reports of interviews with eminent scientists studying the subject are interspersed with brief, helpful essays on brain function and development. I particularly enjoyed her last chapter, "Mind and Body," where she is in dialogue with both Daniel Dennett -- philosopher of mind -- and Norman Fischer -- poet and Zen monk, about consciousness. Here's a quote: "Fischer takes the idea [ ...more
Nov 19, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone interested in how the brain works
This was very well written. It was understandable vem though it covered complex information. There was also an interactive element, where you could access a website to see video of tests performed. It was really fascinating.
Jul 31, 2013 rated it really liked it
As a neuroscience major with a concentration in cellular/molecular neuroscience, I found this book to be quite insightful. It covered the broad spectrum of Neuroscience/Psychology concerning the brain and its many mysteries
Chris March
Apr 24, 2010 rated it liked it
The first four chapters are a fascinating introduction to current brain research. The rest of the book is mainly idle speculation, and felt like a waste of time.
Elizabeth  Holter
Aug 20, 2007 rated it really liked it
A good read for anyone interested in how the brain works.the science is understandable and interspersed with stories about all the personalities involved.
Matthew William
May 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
It is a great introduction for understanding more about the human brain.
May 21, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in learning a little about the brain.
Shelves: science
A nice little overview of the current state of knowledge on the human brain. Organized around a series of interviews with prominent researchers, which provides a nice personal touch.
Oct 25, 2007 rated it liked it
The brain is an incredible organ that has yet to be fully understood.
Feb 25, 2008 rated it really liked it
If you're interested in the human body, this is a very interesting read. Shannon does a great job explaining things.
Ivy Orchid
Aug 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
Very easy to read and understand, not super technical. I'd recommend this book to people interested in the brain that haven't yet done much reading about it.
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